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NAFTA Strikes Again: Tech Jobs Heading South

  • Bill Clinton, your legacy is calling.
By William Carmichael

Everywhere President Clinton went in the waning days of his administration, he spoke about a "robust economy" being part of his legacy.

But just five days before George W. Bush was sworn in, America's cell phone manufacturing industry went south.

The move was part of what Clinton really left behind -- a trade agreement called NAFTA, leading to a United States job hemorrhage.

On Jan. 15, Motorola Inc. announced layoffs that will shut down production at the company's last domestic cellular phone plant.

And on the same day, 3Com, which makes computer networking equipment, said that it would decide by February how many employees to lay off as part of a program to save more than $200 million a year.

Motorola, the maker of mobile phones and computer chips based in Schaum burg, Ill., said it would lay off all 2,500 manufacturing workers at its plant in Harvard, Ill., by June 30.

The cuts amount to about 2 percent of the company's work force of 130,000.


Thousands of Americans have heard the same story. Motorola will rely on its manufacturing plants in Latin America, Asia and Europe, because of cheaper labor costs in Third World countries, said Leif Soder berg, a vice president and head of strategy for the PCS phone division.

Motorola announced quarterly earnings during the second week of January that met Wall Street's expectations, but that lagged behind the period a year earlier.

Although sales increased 11 percent, to $10.1 billion from $9.1 billion, earnings dropped to 15 cents a share from 25 cents.

In a conference call with analysts earli er in the month, Robert Growney, Moto rola's president and chief operating officer, said cost-cutting measures would help profit growth rebound, but not be fore a slow first half of the year.

Growney said he expected sales for the current quarter of about $8.8 billion, $1.3 billion less than the period a year earlier.

Motorola's experience and its decision to abandon America is exactly the same experienced by thousands of other once-American factories and plants.

Free trade has brought carnage to American jobs while owners, bankers and international plutocrats rip American workers and taxpayers off for billions of dollars.

Americans should not expect any improvement from new president George W. Bush, a fanatical free trader whose plans are to continue the disassembly of the once vibrant American economy.